In the fall, Summit High School graduate Tanner Castaldo will join thousands of young men and women as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.
But before Castaldo, 18, starts at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, where he plans to study livestock management, the Silverthorne native has one last piece of unfinished high school business: a national bull riding title.
“When I found out I qualified for nationals it was pretty much like my dream had come true,” Castaldo said. “I couldn’t believe I put it all together and made it this year.”
Castaldo punched his ticket to the National High School Finals Rodeo, taking place July 14-20 in Rock Springs, Wyo., by winning the first round of the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association bull riding finals en route to a fourth place finish overall.
Out of 18 state competitors, only the top four finishers qualify for the national tournament.
“I’m very excited to go to nationals,” Castaldo said. “The way I was riding at state I expect to place at nationals because we rode professional stock at state and it is going to be the same or better in Wyoming.”
Castaldo’s road to the finals was even more satisfying after a series of concussions, and one particularly violent ejection that caused several broken ribs, sidelined him a season ago.
But Castaldo bounced back this year, earning five first place finishes in addition to several top four performances. Castaldo’s best ride, which earned 76 points out of possible 100, was the third highest score in the high school circuit this year. In order to receive a score a rider must stay on the bull for at least 8 seconds.
Castaldo’s efforts not only earned him a slot in Rock Springs, but also a college scholarship. Castaldo plans to continue bull riding while enrolled at NCTA.
“I set myself up pretty good for college,” Castaldo said. “If I ride the way I did at state, I’ve got a good shot to ride well in the national circuit and start getting sponsors.”
The National High School Finals Rodeo features more than 1,500 contestants from 41 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia. Participants will be competing for more than $550,000 in prizes and college scholarships.